The man who led the attempted coup in T&T in July 1990 has signalled his intention not to testify at next week’s hearing of the commission of enquiry. Jamaat Al Muslimeen leader, Imam Yasin Abu Bakr, through his attorney Wayne Sturge, yesterday delivered a letter to counsel to the commission, Christlyn Moore-George, indicating his reservations about testifying. On Wednesday Abu-Bakr was served with a summons to appear before the commission on Monday. The enquiry is being held at the Caribbean Court of Justice, Henry Street, Port-of-Spain. In the past Abu-Bakr has publicly stated his intention to testify at the enquiry once his trial for sedition was completed. In his letter to the commission, Abu Bakr stated he meant no disrespect to the commission and while he was willing to attend, “unless and until there is a final resolution of his trial, either by a verdict or by the filing of a notice of discontinuance by the DPP,” he needed to ensure for himself, a fair trial.
Last month a nine-member jury was unable to arrive at a verdict in which the Jamaat leader faced four charges resulting from a 2005 Eid-ul-Fitr sermon at the Jamaat's Mucurapo mosque. As a result of that Justice Mark Mohammed ordered a retrial. “Whilst Imam Yasin Abu Bakr is desirous of giving a full account of his participation in the 1990 insurrection for the benefit of the wider public, as previously indicated, it is very likely such evidence given by him can and will be used against him at the new trial,” the letter states. Abu Bakr further stated, through Sturge, that at the commencement of the trial, lead prosecutor for the State, Dana Seetahal, SC, “expressed agreement that the events of 1990 were irrelevant to the trial and would play no part in the trial.”
However, after calling all of its witnesses “and immediately before closing the case for the State, Ms Seetahal successfully made an application to have intermitted evidence of the accused’s participation into the 1990 events.” Abu Bakr further countered the reasons advanced to the enquiry for a deferral of his testimony before the determination of his trial “would likely generate adverse pre-trial publicity, both from the testimony itself, and from the snowball effect of the inevitable commentary which follow, and the likelihood that others may seek to use his testimony before the commission” to the detriment of Abu Bakr at his re-trial. He said on August 26, a letter was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Roger Gaspard, in relation to the re-trial, asking him about his position on whether it is in the public interest to continue the prosecution against him for what was said during Abu Bakr’s Eid sermon.